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Du cinéma durable

Du cinéma durable

Cinema : glamor, its scenery, its magic and its waste. Learn how in less than five years, Eva Radke has become a game changer in the cinema industry from the heart of Brooklyn, New York.

Starting point / A minty bitter taste

This is the story of an ad for toothpaste, which had to be shot in the dead of winter in 2007 in New York. The client wants real fresh mint to boast the product.

Eva Radke is the chief of decoration and she will be responsible for the magic: where to find an off-season mint plant that will do well in front of the camera. Of course, the mint will have to be sent from a place where it is still sunny. An airplane and refrigerated trucks are needed to transport the precious accessory to the filming location . D-Day: The customer finally uses plastic mint because it looks more real. Eva’s heart breaks a little in two: on one side her sense of professional consciousness is shredded. The other side is convinced to make a change in this crazy logic.

It’s that minty bitter taste that propels Eva into a mission to reconcile cinema and sustainable development.

Eva naturally begins with what she knows best : the decor department . As objects and accessories are bought, found, and used to provide sets and locations for TV or film, the rule is the same: they have to be available right away and their lifetime ranges from a few seconds to up to a day only to end (almost) always in the trash.

The genius of decorators is the way they know how to find what they are looking for at the best price and in the best conditions: financial, geographical, physical . Often these props don’t even need to be new, they just have to be ready.

Drawing from her own network, Eva starts Art Cube . The principle is simple : New York is full of tips and who better than the pros themselves to exchange industry tips? The solution is simple: a group of professionals who help each other online via a Google Group. The principle is give and take. Give your questions and good tips and take away exactly the same from fellow pros.

Quickly, the online platform has expanded from 500 to 1,850 members and has multiplied across 8 cities in the United States. Professionals co-opt and allow each other to connect and become members with Eva as a light moderator.

Birth of a solution / An online platform and a warehouse in Brooklyn

Meanwhile, Eva tries by all means to optimize waste reduction in the decorative department and soon realizes that a physical storage space is needed. The solution becomes : Film Biz Recycling.  It began as a small space in Brooklyn that for the last 5 years has become an expanding warehouse.

Every day in New York there are film shoots, whether big or small productions. For each production, a set designer can organize the delivery of props, costumes and other furniture to the Film Biz Recycling warehouse preventing the precious materials from going straight to the dumpster.

The team at FBR is responsible for sorting, repairing if necessary and staging the stuff for sale or lease. The warehouse is full of treasures and allows a team of 10 permanent and 6 part-time employees to work as green heroes.

Another interesting aspect of Film Biz Recycling is their local roots . The structure is connected to a vast network of non-profits like Materials for the Arts, a non-profit that has provided creative professionals with supplies for over 35 years in Queens. FBR gives its network access to materials in the audiovisual sector, stuff they would otherwise never access.

During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Film Biz Recycling mobilized its team and material resources to provide initial emergency responses by donating clothing, linens, etc. for those in need or via charitable organizations most active towards populations at risk .

Last year, Film Biz Recyling launched its ‘Golden Dumpster Award’, which rewards the efforts of its partners. Here’s a video that illustrates them.

Impact / From sustainable to change maker in the film industry

The Film Biz Recycling model is similar to most of the social innovations you hear about : it is a hybrid model based on both their own income from sales of equipment ( accessories are sold to the general public and come exclusively from NY-based audiovisual productions) or are leased to professionals.

Other sources of income are from donations and sponsors who see this new model as a prospect for development. Down the line, the economical impact of waste prevention could be of real value to the film industry.

When we conducted the interview in September 2013, Eva had just received a big check from HBO network to support FBR missions. Like many others, HBO understands the importance of partnering with organizations that lead the way with a real, practical impact on a daily basis.

Other large networks will follow because the best practices of today’s film industry are being structured and promoted both internally and externally. For example, a new position on location: the eco-manager.

The role of the eco-manager is to make sure that during all the steps of film production, there are alternatives used to reduce energy consumption, optimize the use of supplies, as well as manage the life cycle of waste products that are available to crew members.

This new take on business is intrinsically linked to the development of alternative models like Film Biz Recycling and effectively pushes major players in the sector to deal with waste in a positive, pro-active and sustainable way.


Cinema : glamor, sequins and good practices . And like every good story the heroine will have more tales to tell ! Sustainable development is not just a story about green plants !


By Jeanne Granger, December 2013

To go further :

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Quelque articles sur FBR en anglais :

Présentation de la conférence du Mouvement des producteurs responsables :

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